Real-Time Search For Virtual Events

Among its many uses, Twitter has become an indispensable technology for event planners – whether the events are physical, virtual or mesh/hybrid.  Just about every event today defines a Twitter hashtag, which allows Twitter users (“tweeps”) to associate their tweets with the event.  If you want to follow comments about TWTRCON SF 09 (which is now over), just search for the hash tag “#twtrcon” in the Twitter client of your choosing.  Here’s how it looks for me in Tweetdeck:


The great thing about Tweetdeck is that the “search view” updates in near-real-time, which means that as new tweets are posted with that hashtag, I see them appear in this particular search pane.  Periodically glancing at a hashtag search in Tweetdeck allows me to keep my finger on the pulse of a live event that might be occurring hundreds of miles away.

Similarly, I’ve attended physical events where I’ve spotted Tweetdeck running on attendees’ laptops – clearly, they’re tweeting about panel discussions, keynote presentations, etc. right there from the event itself.  Those who left their laptops tucked away are likely sending status updates from a Twitter client on their smartphone.

The beauty of Twitter is not just in its capability for organizing a global discussion around particular events – it’s also great for tracking what’s being discussed around a topic.  For a b-to-b marketer, you might want to know what’s being said about your products and services.  For a salesperson, you might want to know how the competition is positioning themselves.  Twitter allows you to search for that chatter in real-time – and, third party services (e.g. tweetbeep, twilert, etc.) allow you to set up agents to send you search results via email.

Now, let’s consider a virtual event.  With all due respect to great White Papers, Case Studies and Product Collateral, I find that the most interesting content at a virtual event is the group chat that occurs in booths and lounges (e.g. the Networking Lounge).  If microblogging content occurs in the statusphere, then I think of a virtual event’s chat content as the chat-o-sphere.

In a very active/engaging virtual event (e.g. lots of activity, plus a number of interesting Webcasts/Videocasts), it can be hard to keep up with all the interesting discussion in the chat-o-sphere.  If I’ve attended a 50-minute Webcast and return to the Lounge, I’ll often find 100 chat entries added since my last visit – it can be challenging to read through what I’ve missed.

Virtual event platforms may need to consider Twitter-like capabilities to search the chat-o-sphere in real-time – and, provide Tweetdeck-like widgets to keep real-time views on specific tags or search terms.  Exhibitors at a virtual event may be interested in real-time searches on the following terms (within a Lounge chat):

  1. Mentions of my company’s name
  2. Mentions of my own name
  3. Mentions of my competitor companies’ names
  4. Mentions of my products
  5. Mentions of my compentitors companies’ products

An exhibitor tracking these search terms can quickly send a product marketer, sales engineer, etc. into the Lounge to quickly address questions being posed – or, simply participate in the discussion.

What do you think about the chat-o-sphere in virtual events – is there value in real-time search against it?

Related Links

  1. NY Times: Hey, Just a Minute (or Why Google Isn’t Twitter)
  2. Blog posting: For Virtual Worlds Info, Here’s Whom I Follow on Twitter (and Why)
  3. Blog posting: Leverage Twitter for Virtual Tradeshow Outreach

2 Responses to Real-Time Search For Virtual Events

  1. You’re definitely hitting the nail on the head here. Twitter, currently, is POWERFUL for virtual events. I’d say the past two weeks I’ve attended 20 events in second life specifically because of a posted event announcement on twitter.
    The groups inworld are now officially completely annoying.

    You’re also on to something about the future of chat.
    Perhaps the new “chatroom” will be more tweekdeck-like viewing and responding.

  2. Very insightful. Another point to consider is this: if Google search is your new home page, would Twitter search become your new event page? And if Google started incorporating Twitter-like real-time search, the possibilities are great indeed!

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